UFC President Dana White praised the character and laid back attitude of Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier last week on The Jim Rome Show, but also noted, “His hatred for Jon Jones turns him into one of those guys that will fight in a hotel lobby.” Today, Cormier took his turn on The Jim Rome Show and agreed with White’s comments and added that a week after Jones was pulled from their scheduled UFC 200 main event over possible doping violations, he needs to forget about the former pound-for-pound king.
“I need a little break from him, because this rivalry has made me ugly,” Cormier said. “It makes me react and behave in ways that I don’t usually behave. I’m the guy that’s smiling and hanging out and having fun. I’m the guy that will sit and talk to people and try to make people feel good. That’s why when people say stuff like that, it’s because they know me on a level that’s much different than what you see when I’m around Jones. It really does make me into a different person. So I really do need a break from him.”
Cormier isn’t sure why Jones has that effect on him, but probably thinks it has something to do with the former champion’s approach to his profession.
“It just drives me crazy. Again, this is a guy who has the world at his fingertips, and I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, and I’m sure he has too, but I try to not make mistakes to actually screw it up,” Cormier said. “A lot of times I watch professional athletes and think why are they intent on throwing this away when they have the ability to help so many people.”
After Jones was pulled from the fight, Cormier talked about his emotions of accepting a fight on 48 hours’ notice against someone who many consider the greatest MMA fighter of all time in Anderson Silva, a fighter Cormier has admired for a long time.
“All day Friday I’m telling myself I’m just going to smash him, I don’t care that its Anderson Silva, I’m just going to smash this dude. And when I looked across from him and he’s crouching, he’s in his Spider position.
“In that moment, I did kind of have that one moment where I went wow, that’s Anderson Silva,” Cormier said.
So why did Cormier agree to take the fight?
“I took the fight because I made a commitment, I made a commitment to myself, to my family, my friends, the fans, and also to the UFC that I would be there to compete, so I went out there and I did it. I went out there and I fought Anderson Silva, and you know what? I got a big W and that’s massive for my career going forward.”
As for the crowd’s negative reaction towards Cormier after he won, the two-time Olympian thinks it was probably a combination of things they didn’t like.
“People like restoration projects, people like the comeback stories. As people, we’re rooting for Jon. I was saying he’s not going to change, he’s the same guy, and I think in that moment people were like he’s callous, he doesn’t have a heart in regards to this and people started to boo me and cheer Jon, and I think it’s just become what they do,” Cormier said. “Maybe they didn’t like the wrestling, maybe they just thought they didn’t like seeing Anderson get beat, but my job is to go out there and win. I’ve had my last three fights, against Jones was fight of the night, my fight against Rumble Johnson was performance of the night, and my fight against Alexander Gustafsson was fight of the night and number 2 fight of the year last year, so I’ve been involved in some barn burners.”
Cormier also defended his wrestling-based game plan against Silva, who is often considered to be one of the greatest strikers ever to enter the octagon.
“It was me fighting in the way I needed to and what am I supposed to do standing in front of Anderson Silva?” Cormier said. “It would be catastrophic if I lost that fight to Anderson, still was the champion, and then Anderson went down a weight class and challenged for the belt, like where I was supposed to go from there.”
So what has it been like transitioning from wrestling, where the pay was around $1,500 per month, to being a UFC Champion? Cormier said, “People talk about the American Dream, the kid that made good. I’m from Lafayette, Louisiana and I don’t come from much, so whenever Salina and I were living that life and we were struggling, I had experienced that life before as a kid, so being able to provide this life for my children and my family it’s the American Dream.
“I go to bed at night and I say a prayer and I smile and I think to myself we’ve come so far, and we’re so lucky we’ve been so blessed,” Cormier said. “But again, it’s working very hard and trying to make the right decision at the right time to me that seems pretty simple, and now I’m starting to see the benefits of it, so now I’m happy.
“I’m a happy, happy man.”